Remarks: The chief architect of Notre Dame: ‘We installed new detection system in 2010 and completely rewired the cathedral, so the fire wasn’t caused by electrical short-circuit’
French media reports citing an interview with the former French Inspector-General for Historic Monuments Benjamin Mouton((FN01)) who oversaw the installation of state-of-the-art fire prevention systems in the Notre Dame Cathedral in 2010, and who was responsible for the building from 2000 to 2013, cast doubt on today’s leak to the Associated Press((FN02)) that the fire was likely caused by an electrical short-circuit.
Benjamin Mouton was interviewed live on TV on Monday evening as the fire continued to burn the 850-year-old symbol of French culture and history. Here’s what he had to say:
“I don’t understand this at all. The fire’s spread is extremely curious. With really old oak-like that, it’s super-hard, so you’d need a lot of smaller wood to first get the fire hot enough for the oak beams to burn.
In 2010 we replaced all the electrical wiring, so there’s no way this was sparked by a short-circuit. We put new wiring in place according to modern standards. And we went even further; we installed state-of-the-art fire protection and detection systems in the cathedral.
At all times, there are always two men on standby in the Cathedral, day and night, to go investigate anything the moment an alarm goes off, then if necessary, to call the fire emergency services.
I am really stunned that this [the fire] has happened. It’s incomprehensible.”
That’s not all. Mouton told French construction magazine BatiActu((FN03)) the following: “In 40 years of experience, I have never heard of a fire like this.
It would take a really combustible load at the start of such a fire for it to rapidly develop into the disaster we saw. Also, oak is a particularly fire-resistant wood.
The fire detection/protection system installed in the cathedral was of the highest level. It was a very expensive undertaking, but it enabled us to quickly ascertain whether a fire had started somewhere. Additionally, we had many old wooden doors replaced by fire-doors.
We also drastically reduced the number of electrical appliances throughout the building, and completely forbid them in the attic.”